Blooming in the Bronx

Left to right: "Fountain Wisteria, Stone Ridge, NY, 6/8/14" and "Kwanzan Cherry Tree, Stone Ridge, NY, 5/11/14"

Left to right: “Fountain Wisteria, Stone Ridge, NY, 6/8/14, 2:46 pm” and “Kwanzan Cherry Tree, Stone Ridge, NY, 5/11/14, 6:41 pm”

Two images from my ongoing series “The Way That Light Attaches” will be on view at the New York Botanical Garden’s 25th annual Antique Garden Furniture Fair. The 24″x36″ archival injet prints (editions of five) are being displayed by Milne At Home, complementing their selection of covetable antiques for the garden and the garden room. Included are a pair of spectacular, nearly three-foot high pineapple finials, c. 1930 and very large graceful orchid pots, c. 1950. All are cast stone and were discovered at an estate in Surrey, England.

As the incomparable New York Botanical Garden celebrates its 125th anniversary, this year’s Fair welcomes more than 30 exhibitors, offering thousands of items. The program also features talks, tours, music, honey sampling and a sale of unusual plants.

The Antique Garden Furniture Fair runs from Friday, April 30 through Sunday, May 1 and is open 10:00 am to 5:00 pm each day.

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Maple Flowers: An Aha Moment (Stillwater Diary)

Red maple flowers, Stone Ridge, NY, 4/2/16

Red maple flowers, Stone Ridge, NY, 4/2/16

I grew up in an unleafy, (then) newish subdivision, just north of the Bronx, which explains (excuses?) a lot. The neighborhood’s landscape was totally manufactured, the original vegetation stripped from the small lots before the small Cape Cod style houses were planted in the dirt. Grass seeds were almost an afterthought for the developer. The new homeowners planted flowers and vegetables, saplings and bushes.

My mother, with a natural aptitude for gardening, chose hedges, forsythia, roses, daffodils, a silver birch and a Japanese maple with rich red leaves. My father, who as a kid, had moved around Brooklyn and the Bronx with his mother and brothers, liked whatever my mother liked, and planted tomatoes.

In the 10 springs I’ve walked in our upstate woods, I’ve seen lacy canopies made of what appear to be newborn red leaves. My identification skills are decent with leaves (bad with bark) but dozens of feet up, the foliage was indistinguishable. And I was puzzled that as the season progressed, the red gave way to green.

Last March, as if the clichéd lightbulb had flashed on above my head, I suddenly realized that the small, red flower-like bits on the banks of and floating in the Groverkill, were indeed flowers (and lovely), fallen from red maples, containing whirligig seeds (the internet says the official name is samaras). For two springs, I’ve been taking pictures of these flowers, wowed by the optimism required to plan to grow up to be a maple tree.

There are two- and four-leaf maple seedlings on the south side of the shed and in the woods. And last weekend small packages of  leaves were opening on tress that had beaten the odds.

Red Maple, Stone Ridge, 4/24/16

Red Maple, Stone Ridge, 4/24/16

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Back to the Garden

Milne, Inc., KIngston, NY

Milne, Inc., Kingston, NY

Rebekah Milne’s third annual Garden Event at her shop in downtown Kingston’s historic waterfront district includes her newly imported collection of antique European garden containers, sculpture and statues. Other elements for the garden, outdoor furniture, tools and books will also be featured and garden designer Scott Zimmer will demonstrate how to make gorgeous arrangements in containers.

I’m very pleased that six 24″x36″ archival inkjet prints from my ongoing series  “The Way That Light Attaches,” are featured in the celebration of spring at Milne, Inc. And I’m thrilled to be sharing the walls with Theresa Drapkin, who’s showing three of her elegant and beautiful floral/garden paintings, pastel on paper, with antique frames.

The Garden Event will take place on Sunday, April 17 from noon to 4:00 pm at Milne, Inc. Spectacular weather is predicted.

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There’s No Word in English for Saudade

Gabriel Mascaro, NYC, 3/25/15

Gabriel Mascaro, NYC, 3/25/15

Light (in its beauty and harshness) and saudade–a feeling that’s more than simple longing, nostalgia–permeate director and writer Gabriel Mascaro’s hypnotic second feature, “Neon Bull (Boi Neon).”

A makeshift family, its origin unspecified, works together to transport a herd of white bulls to the vaquejadas, a traveling rodeo in Brazil’s northeast. Iremar (Juliano Cazarré), a tough and handsome cowhand, and the comically round Zé (Carlos Pessoa), feed, clean up after, and prep the bulls (rubbing chalk into their tails) before each is launched into the arena, where two men on galloping horses try to topple the animal by ferociously pulling down on its tail.

Galega (Maeve Jinkings), casually sexy in shorts and t-shirts, drives the large truck, which doubles as their sleeping quarters when the almost magical looking animals are corralled at that day’s venue. Cacá (Aline Santana), Galega’s active young daughter often proclaims her preference for horses over bulls, plays with a glowing plastic Pegasus, and misses her absentee father.

Their days have a familiar pattern. But the region, long dismissed as arid and it inhabitants derided for being poor and uneducated, is changing, development bringing textile and garment factories and malls (an ad for one includes #city of fashion), fueling Iremar’s dream of designing glamorous women’s clothing.

Mascaro, who lives in Recife, the northeast city where he was born, says, that in the character of Iremar, he combined aspects of the area’s longtime livestock and agricultural activities with those of the industry that’s becoming part of its future. “He accumulates roles that combine force and delicacy, bravura and sensitive, violence and endearment.”

In a spectacular image (the film’s DP, Diego Garcia, also shot Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s recent “Cemetery of Splendor”), Iremar is seen in a long shot/long take, walking on caked mud, scavenging discarded bits of brightly colored fabric and mannequin parts. Sketching his ideas on the women in skin magazines, Iremar then uses his small sewing machine to create exotic costumes for Galega, who moonlights as a stripper. The work lives they desire and the one they have and need, are, at least temporarily, in balance.

The poster for Mascaro’s first fiction feature, “August Winds (Ventos de Agosto)”–which I’ve yet to see–is uncommonly beautiful and evocative. He said he shot it after completing his film, at a coconut farm, and that his actors are actually lying on the coconuts.

“Neon Bull,” which won the Special Jury Prize at the 2015 Venice Film Festival, will open on Friday, April 8 at the Film Society of Lincoln Center, and will expand nationally in coming weeks. A Q&A with Gabriel Mascaro and Maeve Jinkings will follow the April 8, 6:30 pm show and they will intro the 9:15 pm show. A retrospective of his previous work, “Gabriel Mascaro: Ebbs and Flows” opens at Film Society on Friday, April 15 and runs through Thursday, April 21.

Also opening tomorrow (at the IFC Center): “11 Minutes,” directed by Jerzy Skolimowski and “The Invitation,” directed by Karyn Kusama, are very different films but both are super stylish thrillers, with astonishing, horrifying endings. Make it a double feature.

Jerzy Skolimowski, NYC, 10/2/08 and Karyn Kusama, NYC, 6/25/15

Jerzy Skolimowski, NYC, 10/2/08 and Karyn Kusama, NYC, 6/25/15

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Spring’s Mood Swings (Stillwater Diary)

Aristocrat pear tree with snow, Stone Ridge, NY, 4/4/16

Aristocrat pear tree with snow, Stone Ridge, NY, 4/4/16

It was end of the afternoon on Friday when we arrived in Stone Ridge, nearly 80º, with spectacular fast moving clouds, the Hudson Valley sky that Frederick Church and Thomas Cole painted. The forsythia, viburnum and aristocrat (yes, I saw the movie) pear tree were seriously budding. We celebrated the seasonally inappropriate warmth with P&P (a favorite vacation indulgence in Truro, in July), a glass of rosé and Cape Cod sweet & spicy jalapeño potato chips.

Sunday morning we woke to wet snow, just a coating and already melting, big water drops falling from the roof and freezing between the bluestones, beautiful bubbles encasing new blades of grass.

By dawn Monday the type of storm that had eluded us in February when we wanted to snowshoe, had already dumped three or four inches. It’s time for baseballs not snowballs. In the Bronx the dismal penetrating rain forced the postponement of opening day for the boys of summer.

Ice bubbles, Stone Ridge, NY, 4/3/16

Ice bubbles, Stone Ridge, NY, 4/3/16

Forsythia, Stone Ridge, NY, 4/1/16 and 4/3/16

Forsythia, Stone Ridge, NY, 4/1/16 and 4/3/16

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A Monthlong Memorial

Chantal Akerman, in her installation, "From The East," at the Jewish Museum, NYC, 2/21/97

Chantal Akerman, in her installation, “From The East,” at the Jewish Museum, NYC, 2/21/97

Chantal Akerman, whose unexpected death last fall, a few days before her latest (and now last) film, the profound “No Home Movie,” had its U.S. premiere at the New York Film Festival, is survived by a body of extraordinary work, that with its thematic, emotional and formal concerns, changed cinema. In tribute to Akerman, BAMcinématek, Film Forum, Anthology Film Archives and the Museum of the Moving Image have organized simultaneous programs of her films.

BAMcinématek’s series, “Chantal Akerman: Images Between the Images,” a comprehensive retrospective running through Sunday, May 1, opens on Friday, April 1 with the New York theatrical premiere of “No Home Movie.” (The film is also available tomorrow on Fandor.)

Shot mostly in her beloved mother’s apartment (but ranging widely, emotionally and historically), Akerman has described her intimate documentary as, “a film of love, a film about loss, sometimes funny, sometimes terrible. But viewed with an eye that keeps a respectful distance, I think. A film where a transmission occurs, discreetly, almost effortlessly, without pathos, in a kitchen in Brussels.”

A new restoration of “Jeanne Dielman, Quai Du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles” (1975) Akerman’s terrifying beautiful early masterpiece, starring the incomparable Delphine Seyrig, will open on Friday, May 1 at Film Forum.  Marianne Lambert’s documentary, “I Don’t Belong Anywhere: The Cinema of Chantal Akerman,” which portrays her longtime colleague “as a nomad who sought an emotional home that eluded her,” plays through April 5. It screens with a new short film by Vivian Ostrovsky, “But Elsewhere is Always Better,” incorporating decades of her own footage of Akerman. Tickets for Lambert and Ostrovsky’s documentaries are free of charge, available at Film Forum’s box office on a first-come, first-served basis, day of show only.

The Museum of the Moving Image is showing “From the East,” a journey from “the end of summer to deepest winter, from East Germany, across Poland and the Baltics, to Moscow, shortly after the collapse of the Soviet bloc, ” on Saturday, April 2 and Sunday, April 3.

“No Home Movie” and in its New York theatrical premiere run, “Là-Bas” (2006), which was filmed predominantly in an apartment where Akerman stayed in Tel Aviv, will be presented at the Anthology Film Archives from Friday, April 15 through Thursday, April 21. Film critic Amy Taubin wrote in Film Comment, “Before, after, and between the narrative feature films…that anchor her status as a world-class filmmaker and one of the most indispensable of her post-Godard generation, Akerman has made some 20 works (films, performances, gallery installations) whose basic form is the letter – sometimes written to her by another, or by her to another, but most often by and to herself…”Là-Bas” is both the most fragile and most powerful of these works.”

In a December 2015 piece (that functions as a eulogy) for the online film journal, Senses of Cinema, Vivian Ostrovsky, included a perfect quote, Akerman describing her work, “When people are enjoying a film they say ‘I didn’t see the time go by’… but I think that when time flies and you don’t see time passing by you are robbed of an hour and a half or two hours of your life. Because all you have in life is time… With my films you’re aware of every second passing through your body.”

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Swellebores (Stillwater Diary)

False hellebores, 3/27/16, Stone Ridge, NY

False hellebores, Stone Ridge, NY, 3/27/16

Deborah was first to spot the chartreuse peaks and pleats, the false hellebores pushing up through the rocks and mud along the Groverkill, spectacularly signaling spring. This year they’re early, as the no-winter winter winds down, most memorable for a difference of more than 70 degrees (-12º to 62º) in seven days, from one Saturday to the next, in mid/late February.

Without the usual covering crust of ice, the watercress was only semi-dormant, and only briefly. The smaller, less peppery leaves, still welcome in early March salads, are getting larger and more flavorful, as the plants robustly spread downstream. Precocious daylilies emerging around the shed will need to be sprayed to discourage the deer. The lavender is still grey.

(I’ve had Joni Mitchell’s “The Circle Game” in my head for a few days, and the song, like so many things, reminds me of Abby, whose birthday was in early spring).

Left to right: watercress in the Groverkill and lavender, Stone Ridge, NY, 3/27/16

Left to right: watercress in the Groverkill and lavender, Stone Ridge, NY, 3/27/16

Leo and Ryder (spring Labs), 3/27/16, Stone Ridge, NY

Leo and Ryder (spring Labs), Stone Ridge, NY, 3/27/16

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